Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ordering contacts would be much easier minus the red tape.

So I ordered my lenses, a long overdue chore by the way, and Coastal Contacts emailed me one of those virtual reciepts and all is cool. Then I get an email saying that my prescription has expired. I beg to differ, I am still blind and that prescription seems to do the trick.

Now, let's go back a couple months ago. John comes in with the mail and hands me a postcard from Sears Optical, it's one of those reminder things that says I should go see the doctor. Whatever, I say, last time he told me that my prescription barely changed. Why should I have to go and pay a hundred bucks to hear the same news? I know nothing's changed. So I tossed it in the trash and then a few days ago I took out my last remaining pair of lenses and decided I better order some new ones before these start bothering my eyes.

I don't want to go to the eye doctor. I mean, it's a lot better than going to the dentist, but it's just kind of pointless.

I know he's just going to squeeze me for cash while he holds my prescription hostage.

But now I'm stuck. I have to call and make the stupid appointment. You know, I'm really not in the mood.


My Dear People,

Okay, once again, I am asking for your help. I don't know how to get this stinking little white line that looks like a lower cased "L" or capital "I" (you decide) off of the top of every post. I'm a bit put out by that thing.

I know one of you out there knows the secret and you know who you are. I implore you to look within yourself and find that good samaritan that lives within a few of us and help me.

Waiting on pins and needles,


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Contiued from 1-800-Jenny-Craig

Here's just a bit more of the story that received a flood of comments from all of my biggest fans out there in Nowhere Land. By the way, there were no comments. Feel free to leave one. And note to Kirsty, I'm sorry but I am going to have to take out all the anonymous comments, I know just how careful you have with what you say about Jenny since you are still under contract.

When Amy called back to schedule an interview I got nervous. I didn’t have any real work clothes. I’d always been in jeans with all my other jobs. I went shopping at TJMaxx and then in my aunt’s closet, who ended up lending me an entire outfit. I felt fat in it and I was sure that wouldn’t be a good thing considering I should feel and look fit and trim in order to convince people I know how to get them to lose weight. The blazer and skirt were a couple sizes too big, but my aunt insisted that it looked fine. The shoes fit, but weren’t my style at all. I felt like I was playing business lady dress-up in my mother’s clothes.

I sweated during the entire car ride down to the regional office. I had no clue what kind of questions she was going to ask me or how the hell I was going to answer them. I had spent the whole weekend pretending to be interviewed asking myself questions like, “So, Debbie, what do think that you have to offer us here at Jenny Craig? I see that most of your prior work experience is in (skims over the resume)….oh, it looks like you worked in some cafés? Is that correct? And what do think your prior work in the restaurant field has taught you about losing weight? I mean, look at you, you look like a fat cow in that suit! Are you wearing your mother’s clothes?”

I walked into the lobby and the receptionist looked up at me and asked, “Can I help you?” I immediately knew she thought I was fat and probably assumed I was there to lose weight, but I cut her off. “Yes, I have an interview scheduled with Amy.” And with that Amy appeared around the corner walking toward me with a big smile and her hand stretched out to shake mine. “It’s so nice to meet you! Come on back! Oh! By the way, this is Lisa and Bridget!” she said introducing me to the girls behind the counter. “Hi, nice to meet you,” they said

The entire interview felt like a therapy session. She’d put at ease immediately about not knowing the first thing about weight loss. There was in depth paid training that all the new consultants were required to go through. She asked me lots of questions about my previous work experience and hung on my every word even when I talked about how at my last job we had to wash all the dishes by hand because there wasn’t enough room in the kitchen for an industrial dishwasher.

She was incredibly nice and friendly, very tall and pretty and had this star quality about her. Even though she’d been super nice, I felt like a dumpy frumpy loser that she didn’t want to make feel bad by telling me there was no way I was right for the job. It seemed like everything was going well enough but I’d figured at the end of this really long and involved interview that she kindly shake my hand and tell she’d give me call after reviewing other candidates for the job. But then out of nowhere it seemed, she just came out and said, “You know, I’m really not supposed to do this, but I just feel like you’d be a perfect fit here. I’d like to offer you a consultant position, but I’d really like to see you in a management position in the future, what do you think?” I was stunned and accepted. She walked me out and reintroduced me as a new consultant to Lisa and Brigdet. I felt like saying, “In your face!” but I just smiled and thanked Amy for the opportunity and drove home on cloud nine.

Still working on it, they'll be more to come. Like you even care.

Friday, October 21, 2005

You want the truth?

Okay. I lied. Maybe my popcorn maker was not a "featured" news story, but it could have been.

Anyway, I don't even know if they read my email or not because I wasn't able to watch the entire three hour broadcast this morning. But if it never ended up on air, then I think Fox & Friends are the real losers here because it certainly isn't me. They could have kibbitzed about popcorn, popcorn makers, brands and various kinds of kernels. There could have even been an online poll.

Naturally the discussion would have moved onto the subject of popcorn balls and recipes would be made available. I would have been scheduled as a guest on the show to demostrate the old fashioned and long forgotten art of kettle popcorn popping. Who knows how different the world would be today if that email were in fact read on air. And it was a good email, too. One of my top five best written emails of all time. Perhaps even, number three.

My old popcorn maker

more on that later...

The Old Popcorn Maker in Question...

This morning my old popcorn maker was a featured news story on Fox & Friends.It all started with Steve Doocey (first guy on the left) complaining about how he couldn't find any bags of raw loose corn popping kernels at the grocer's.

They only carried that new-fangled microwaveable kind.

Then, I remembered that I, too, appreciate the old fashioned popcorn making traditions of our ancestors. In fact, I'd made a bowl of the white fluffy munchies only last night. It was the first official homemade kettle corn of the Autumn season in our household.

Unfortunately, I decided to try out a new expensive gourmet brand of black kernels. It sounded exotic and tempting so I bought it. But it was horrible and full of tough shells that did little for the pallette but leave it wondering what the hell was I trying to ingest. It wreaked havok on our gums forcing us to floss immediatley after eating and picking out contact lens sized husks from between our teeth.

So here's the email I sent to Fox:

Debbie Cakes to friends
More options
7:23 am (3½ hours ago)

Hi Guys;

Come on, you knew that some loser was going to write in about how they have one of those old popcorn makers.Mine has been passed down a few generations. It's old, it's electric (believe it or not) and is on the brink of destruction. My sister and I fought over the rights to it and somehow I won.
It makes the best popcorn. Orville Redenbacker's got nothing on me.By the way, I just happened to break out the old girl last night and used a new popcorn kernel brand called "Black Jewel". It sounded exotic, but instead was horrible and expensive. Just thought you should know, Steve.

Alright people, back to the real news....

Deb @#$%^}$#%^&(! ,

P.S.I have a picture of it, but I doubt you're that interested...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Help Wanted:

Does anybody out there know how to get rid of this annoying little white lower case L from the top of every post I have? It's really starting to get on my last nerve.
Thank you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

What Do All These Women Have In Common?

What do all these women have in common? Okay, besides looking like me, really.

Jennifer Aniston and the many hairstyles of:

That's me, on the right...

Chris Kattan as Kathy Griffin;

Kathy Griffin, as herself:

Woman who claims to be "Vitamin C";

Actual Vitamin C:

Before breast reduction;

After the procedure:

Jagged Little Pill;

No, Thank you, India.

Don't judge me, I found it when I googled Alanis, okay?

Hey....wait a minute! That looks who put that there?

I know, it doesn't look like me. In fact through modern technological distortion, it appears that I have on a ton of eyeshadow, which is not the case. In fact I'm not wearing any today. Oh well.
Still, curious, huh? Okay, well here's another one, back when I had my Paige Davis flippy 'do last year:

Well, come on, you didn't think I'd put an actual photo of the real me did you? Sorry, Charlie, I'm a little too chicken to for that. Way too many pervs lurking around on the internet.

Hey! Has anyone ever told you that you look like____?!!

Has this ever happened to you? You know, someone meets you and maybe they're a little sloppy (or not) and start being brutally honest with you that your face shares some similiar features with a celebrity? Okay, sometimes, that's not a compliment either.

I really got to thinking about this lately. It's happened quite a lot to me. Here's who I've been told I look like:

Jennifer Aniston (yeah!)
Kathy Griffin (umm, yeah.)
Alannis Morrisette (okay, I guess.)
Gillian Anderson (the redhead from XFiles)
Vitamin C (okay, I don't know who she is either.)
Punky Brewster (now or when she was Punky Brewter- before or after breast reduction?)

Okay. So, some of these people I can sort of see a bit of resemblance. When Friends was starting to become a big hit and had been working in coffee shops, I got a lot of the "hey you look like Jennifer Aniston" comments. It went away after I lost the "Rachel" 'do. But then it started coming back. I was working as a preschool teacher when I'd decided enough with trying to grow this hair out and chopped it off into a nice bob. Then another teacher, a strange one who one day brought a picture of her dead cat to school to show me, said, "Hey, why did you cut your hair? Are trying to look like Jennifer Aniston or something? I mean, cause you look exactly like her." Okay, then. Like I said, she was a bit of a freak.

When I used to work in a cafe back when I was still sporting the "rachel", this regular customer came in for a cuppa and swore that I looked "just like that girl from Suddenly Susan!!!" Which one? "Oh! I can't think of her name...but you look just like her!" Oooh! Brooke Shields? (Who I look nothing like, but I'll take it. "No, the redhead spitfire!" That would be Kathy Griffin. Now, I really like Kathy Griffin. But don't get me excited saying that I look like the Suddenly Susan chick and it turns out it's the goofy comic relief. Thanks.

My mom is the one who swears that I look like Gillian Anderson. I can see that a little. And since I loved the XFiles, I could live out my Mulder fantasies by watching my lookalike investigate the paranormal side by side.

I was in the flats (Cleveland bar and club district) when a very drank albeit very cute band guy was going nuts over me and calling people over to take a poll on how much I looked like Alanis Morrisette. What do you do with yourself in that kind situation?

Back to preschool teacher times. I had some highlights put in and one afterschool kid about ten years old started yelling to his freinds that I looked like Vitamin C. Then a couple of the girls agreed with him and became incredibly hyper jumping around me saying that I looked like Vitamin C. I guess that's a good thing if it's cold and flu season.

And lastly, I've been told that I looked like Punky Brewster for eons. I don't know if people think I look like her now as a little kid or that I look like the current Punky Brewster all grown up. Perhaps it's that little red bandana I always have tied around the knee of my jeans.

Monday, October 17, 2005


This is just part one of many, many parts of this sorted tale....and it's all true...

I found an ad in the Hartford Courant for a weight loss consultant position at Jenny Craig. I was unemployed and needed to either find work or move back to Cleveland and live with my parents. My entire reasoning for moving to Connecticut was to help my aunt run her café and now she was closing it. I figured it was time to make a preemptive strike against my karma. Since I’d spent the last year of my life fattening everyone up with homemade pastries, working at a diet center was the only way to the settle the score.

I called the number listed and left a voicemail saying that I was interested in finding out about what the job entailed. I didn’t know anything about losing weight. I’d gained about twenty pounds during my freshman year at Kent State and lost it on my own. But I can’t say that I’d really made a conscious effort to. It’s sort of happened by osmosis. I didn’t go back to Kent, started working full time and since I wasn’t sitting around smoking pot and stuffing my face with Wendy’s and Taco Bell, somehow the pounds just melted away.

After leaving that message I found myself getting even more curious about what it meant to be a “weight loss consultant”. I’d actually get to learn all about how to lose weight, and working for a big diet guru like Jenny Craig would expose me to all the secrets of how the rich and famous do it. And I’d get paid for it! I’d actually be doing something to help people, something to help them out of the misery that goes along with being overweight. I’d be like a medical professional, but then would I need to know stuff like a real dietician or nutritionist knows? I quickly began to doubt that I would ever be qualified enough to consult overweight people on how to lose weight. What the hell did I have to offer? What did I really know about diet and exercise? How was I supposed to figure out how to teach someone what and how much to eat? I was sure that you needed some sort of background in nutrition to know what you’re talking about. I’d never be able to get this job.

A couple days later the phone rang, and a woman named Amy was calling about the message I’d left. She sounded really friendly and professional and asked me about my previous jobs. When I’d told her about how I really didn’t have any experience in the diet industry but I was still interested in learning she didn’t baulk at my ignorance. She asked me to send her my resume` and when she had time to look at it she’d give me a call to set up an interview. Resume`? I didn’t know how to make a resume. I didn’t even know what one looked like. My fiancé`, John worked in an office, he’d know how write one of those.

When we sat down at the computer to type one up, I realized it was going to be one of the most pathetic looking resumes ever. “Okay, first you need a mission statement, or a goal,” John said. What was my mission? “Like my mission in life? Well, I should say something like; My mission is to become very healthy, or help others become really healthy. It should say something about eating right if I want them to think that I really want the job.” I had no idea what I was talking about. John suggested that maybe we should keep it simple by stating that my objective was to obtain a weight loss consultant or entry level position at Jenny Craig. Wow, he really knew what he was doing. There’s no way I could ever sound that professional.

I felt squeamish when he starting asking me about every job I’d held in the past five years. But I’d only been working for three years, I said. Unless I could count my summer jobs, would that be better? Then it would look like I’d been working for a long time and that I’d had lots of jobs. I was sure that the more jobs it’d looked like I’d had, the more impressed Jenny Craig would be. John said that long resumes with lots of different jobs would only make me appear unstable and unreliable. What would I have ever done without him?

I looked at the finished product with a sense of pride. There it was, neatly typed, my entire employment history. From August of 1995 through March of 1996 I’d worked at Discount Drugmart as the Manager of the Cosmetics Department. I was really only a cashier located at the makeup counter, but I was in charge of all the stock and inventory, and since I was the oldest cashier at that counter that pretty much made me a manager. From April 1996 through March of 1997 I’d been the assistant manager for the RoseCart Café. I waitressed and took inventory, and the owners had given me some extra responsibilities that they just couldn’t trust the teenagers with, like counting cash and making bank deposits. Then from March of 1997 through September 1998 I’d been working at Celia’s Café and Deli, my aunt’s place, as a manager, cook, waitress, cashier, and buyer. I did everything anyone who works in a restaurant does, especially when only three people work there.

But wait! There's be continued, dot, dot, dot.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Did he just say?....

Okay, someone just forwarded this to me. I have no idea if George Carlin really said this or if it's just some stupid hoax. Either way, that's pretty controversial. Have a look at this:

George Carlin on New Orleans

"Been sitting here with my ass in a wad, wanting to speak out about the bullshit going on in New Orleans. For the people of New Orleans... First wewould like to say, Sorry for your loss. With that said, Let's go through afew hurricane rules: (Unlike an earthquake, we know it's coming)

#1. A mandatory evacuation means just that...Get the hell out. Don't blame the Government after they tell you to go. If they hadn't saidanything, I can see the argument. They said get out... if you didn't, it's your fault, not theirs.
(We don't want to hear it, even if you don't have a car, you can get out.)

#2. If there is an emergency, stock up on water and non-perishables. If you didn't do this, it's not the Government's fault you're starving.
#2a. If you run out of food and water, find a store that has some.(Remember, shoes, TV's, DVD's and CD's are not edible. Leave them alone.)
#2b. If the local store has been looted of food or water, leave your neighbor's TV and stereo alone. (See #2a) They worked hard to get their stuff. Just because they were smart enough to leave during a mandatory evacuation, doesn't give you the right to take their's theirs, not yours.

#3. If someone comes in to help you, don't shoot at them and then complain no one is helping you.
I'm not getting shot to help save some dumbass who didn't leave when told to do so.

#4. If you are in your house that is completely under water, your belongings are probably too far gone for anyone to want them. If someone does want them, let them have them and hopefully they'll die in the filth. Just leave! (It's New Orleans, find a voodoo warrior and put a curse on them.)

#5. My tax money should not pay to rebuild a 2 million dollar house, a sports stadium or a floating casino. Also, my tax money shouldn't go to rebuild a city that is under sea level. You wouldn't build your house on quicksand would you? You want to live below sea-level, do your country some good and join the Navy.

#6. Regardless of what the Poverty Pimps Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton want you to believe,
the US Government didn't create the Hurricane as a way to eradicate the black people of New Orleans;
(Neither did Russia as a way to destroy America). The US Government didn't cause global warming
that caused the hurricane (We've been coming out of an ice age for over a million years).

#7. The government isn't responsible for giving you anything. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave, but you gotta work for what you want. McDonalds and Wal-Mart are always hiring, get a damn job and stop spooning off the people who are actually working for a living. President Kennedy said it best..."Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Thank you for allowing me to rant. "

squirrel napping

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Waiting in Bars and Restaurants

I am terribly impatient when it comes to waiting for a table in a restaurant. If I walk in and they tell me there is even a 20 minute wait, I get antsy. I’m thinking, I can’t wait around with all theses other knuckleheads. And of course there’s no place to sit, so you’re left standing in the middle of all these people who are thinking the same thing you are.

“I’m going to the bar,” I’ll tell whoever I’m with. But I am actually telling that person that we are all going to the bar because I’m certainly not going in there by myself.

And then instead of waiting in the lobby with the cows- well, when you think about it, hordes of people standing together in a crowded area all talking at the same time sounds pretty close to mooing; you’re left waiting in the bar where you wait to order a drink while waiting for a table where you’ll be waited on.

There’s always this ill formed line, just mounds of people all around the bar waiting for one of the bartenders to look in your direction and get your drink. And why are there never more than two of them to handle the three-hundred of us? Why don’t they just let us back there and we can just serve ourselves? It would be a logical solution. Kind of a buffet style bar. I think it’d be a real hit.

The best way to get the bartender’s attention is to hold money, preferably, wave a five dollar bill. So that’s what I did to show him I mean business. Then I see some other people holding tens, now of course the bartender goes to them first. So I get wise and pull out a twenty. I look over at one of dopes still waving two singles in his hand, I give him a look like, How you like them apples?

I finally get some service and then there’s this very effeminate guy squeezing in next to me and starts whining, “Can I just get a glass of ice…hey! I just need- hello? Can, can I get ice, just ice? I just need a plain glass with ice is all!” What the hell does this guy think he’s doing? If I have to hold up a twenty to get a three dollar drink, he’d better hold up a fifty if he wants something for free.

With my long awaited vodka tonic in hand, I leave a one dollar tip for all his trouble. For what God forsaken reason is this? For crying out loud, these guys have got it made. Everyone’s stuffing singles into that big oversized brandy glass sitting on the counter. Ridiculous. Who’s going to drink that much brandy? Tell you what; give me the drink in that glass so that I won’t have to come back for seconds.

And I believe that I had asked for a wedge of lime. Or rather, I thought it was implied by the type of drink. A vodka tonic always comes with lime. So before the bartender gets too far I ask him for a lime. He drops something in my drink that looks like one of those pie pieces you get in Trivial Pursuit. This is not a wedge. I’ve even gotten the really paper thin slice of lime. What the hell am I supposed to do with this? I can’t squeeze it. Am I supposed to steep it in my drink like a tea bag? One time I got a piece of the lime peel. It was curly and cute, but I didn’t know what it meant. It’s the zest, I was told. Zest is a bar of soap. Gimme the wedge, damnit! I know you got more limes back there! Why are you so stingy with the limes? Give me the lime and a knife and I’ll cut my own piece. A proper wedge that I can squeeze into my drink. Jesus, do I have to do everything around here?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Most Shocking Moment on TV

(p.s. i wrote this during the premiere season of "grey's anatomy" for all you nitpicky people)

I happened to catch that new medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy the other night. Of course I couldn’t stay up to watch it in it's entirety. It comes on at ten and that’s just cutting it too close to my bed time.

I believe it was the opening scene, it must have been. It was shocking and dramatic. Usually that’s how they hook you into stay up till eleven and once again costing you that extra hour of sleep. A rape victim was rushed into the emergency room.

They began to examining her injuries when Dr. Grey, the med student, notices that this patient is wearing the same exact pair of shoes she, herself, had been wearing earlier, only these were spotted with fresh blood. They were these hideous leopard print flats, although I’m sure that they’re like a really hot designer shoe. I guess it was supposed to be a reality check moment, as if to say, “Paging Dr. Grey, this could happen to you the next time the rapist is out targeting women who fell for another bad shoe trend.”

Since Dr. Grey isn’t a full grown doctor yet, she was left to observe standing at the end of the o.r. while a team of professionals poked and prodded the patient. The man in charge the surgical team was standing at the head of the patient. For some reason he bent in closer to get a look and noticed an obstruction in her airway; no wait, it wasn’t that, there was something in her mouth, something that he was gonna get out with some tweezers. He pulled out what looked like a bloody lump. Then the camera came in for a quick close up. He seemed puzzled. He held it up high to the light and looked around, “What is that?” he said to himself. Then he asked a little louder, “Does anyone know what this is?!” The others around him looked at each other and shrugged.

Dr. Grey who was standing at the outer edge of the room spoke up, “It’s a penis.” Then the room filled with gasps and whispers, someone said “Oh my god!” and then I’m not sure but I think one of them came this close to fainting.

This may come as a surprise, but that is not the most shocking thing about that scene. The most shocking thing is that Dr. Grey, the new girl doctor knew what it was right away. “Oh yes, I’ve seen one of these before…I am almost certain it’s a…PENIS!” Shouldn’t he, who was holding this chunk of flesh, have recognized it right away? He was a trained doctor, not to mention he had been walking around with one of those since day number one. Made me wonder what might be going on in his pants.

Even after Dr. Grey had said what it was, he looked at her in complete disbelief. It would have been believable at this point for him to drop it into a metal pan demanding the nurse to rush it to the lab. “I want you to run all tests necessary to make sure this is, in fact, a penis!”

These shows keep blowing us away with all their controversy. Where will we be when someone decides it has finally gone too far. I usually don’t get personally offended when watching a show. If it’s getting on my nerves I simply change the channel. There’s more where that came from.

I used to work in a weight loss center with this one woman who would ask me every week, “Did you watch Fear Factor last night?” The answer was always the same; no. I would tell her I never watched it and wasn’t about to go and get myself hooked.

It held no interest for me, watching twenty-somethings force unspeakable things down their throats in order to have a chance at winning some money. It was all I could do to keep from wondering why it was these schmucks wouldn’t go out and just get a real job. And if not that, why not just play the lottery, go to Vegas, or even try their hand at one of those get rich quick schemes. I just couldn’t relate to people that were willing to stuff their mouths with a cow’s colon and rotted chicken brains with a side of minced pig testicles. Eating disgusting things is one thing and doing it for money is another. But doing it for only the slight chance of winning money is what gets my knickers in a bunch. It’s not even enough money to say it was all worth it. Fifty thousand dollars. Certainly I, could use fifty grand, but I’ll work at a non-stomach churning job for an entire year to earn that salary rather than spend one night gorging myself with petrified monkey feces for only a chance at having it.

John and I really got into Survivor. It was the pioneer of prime time reality shows. The first season was great, we didn’t know what to expect. People formed alliances and you started to believe that these folks must be really smart. No one else had even thought of teaming up with other people to increase their chances of going further in the competition. Now it’s the first thing they do before they even land on the remote island.

The many seasons of this show have worn away its original mystique. Even when Jeff Probst throws the newer castaways a curve ball, it’s never the same. The first season had almost no twists and turns as far as the rules of the game were concerned; it was the players that made the show a hit.

Reality shows where the contestants get kicked off the island, so to speak, lose their edge quickly. Every new season leaves the producers scratching their heads wondering how to make the show, the game, and the players more intriguing. The shows have a great beginning, but refuse to stand the test of time.

Each new season promises smarter, more cunning players. They’ve usually sent in an audition tape showing that they can be wild and crazy and are willing to doing anything to get in front of a T.V. camera. The producers try to throw off the new contestants with last minute switches in the game and upping the ante. It never really works though, because the new players are a highly evolved breed that had the advantage that the first season didn’t. They watched last year’s show.

Our own children have become zombies in front of television sets and computer screens all across America. Parents wonder why their kids are overweight, under motivated and hyperactive with short attention spans. I have a three year old son, Jack. I’m not eating granola, and making clothes out of hemp, but I try to raise him somewhat naturally. Yes, he can watch T.V. but the moment he becomes a little bit brattish about wanting to watch this or that I usually turn the television off. He’s had enough. At this very moment he’s been keeping him self busy with handful of magnets and a metal cookie sheet for the last forty-five minutes without the TV on as even background noise.

There’s a certain cable channel, and I won’t mention names, that boasts of its nutritional value for the child’s growing brain. They have some cute programs that don’t get on my nerves and aren’t completely mindless entertainment for the little ones. Shows include things like counting numbers, recognizing letters and shapes, and cute cuddly wide-eyed characters that are learning everything for the first time. They know nothing at all, which I guess is the point. Your child is either supposed to learn along with them or snicker at their stupidity.

The network says that their programming is equal to sending your child to preschool for the day. I sincerely hope that parents out there in TV land aren’t taking this claim too seriously. But the channel’s commercials certainly don’t help.

In one such ad, you watched as a little girl sat on the couch with her grandparents talking about the usual childish nonsense when her buzz kill of a mother walks in. She tells her that’s enough chatting it up with Grandma and Grandpa; it’s time for preschool. The mother then hands her a small backpack to put on. The child pulls the straps over her shoulders and plops a squat on the floor with her face inches away from the television set.

From 6 AM to 6 PM, your child can watch preschool programs. Why pay for an actual preschool when there’s one on TV all day long? I wonder how much longer this cable channel can keep the FCC at bay with this ridiculous claim. Surely, some trailer park trash mother will be charged with neglecting and endangering her child by leaving them parked in front of the TV while she ran out to get some smokes and beer. She’ll claim that she had left her child at preschool so what’s the big woop? It might not be a severed penis in someone’s mouth, or even on TV, but still, I think that’s pretty shocking.

pps. if you click on the title you can check out the most dramtic surgery ceremony ever. i think i found the picture. i know, i'm lame for even looking it up....

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Autumn in Cleveland

Enough with the heat already. I can’t wait for fall. I’m sick of being hot.

It’s October. It’s supposed to be “brisk”, good running weather. But instead, I’ve been sweating in my jeans for the last three days. That’s right, jeans. I’m boycotting all summer clothes. Well, not all, I’ll wear a t-shirt or tank, but no more shorts. I refuse.

I keep looking at my fall clothes oh, so longingly. Like forbidden lovers, the call to me, an angora sweater sleeve falls from the shelf and brushes against my shoulder. I tell him “not now.” My high-heeled boots beckon me, I tell them we will be together soon. I will wear them with my tan corduroys when it gets cooler. They don’t realize it’s harder for me than it is for them.

Normally, Cleveland wouldn’t conjure up images of a tropical climate. But let me tell you, the summers here are as hot as hell. Humid as….something other than hell, because I think with all that fire, it’s probably like a nice, dry heat.

Did I mention that we have no central air? Well, we used to have a couple of units up until John took them down- one month ago. “Summer’s almost over, we don’t need these anymore. It’s been getting pretty cool at night.” He does this every year. Then I complain that it must be nice to work in an air-conditioned office all day while his wife and child are left to fend for themselves like a couple of Alaskan Huskies locked in a hot car.

This morning I checked the weather. High of 79. What the? They said it was gonna rain and be like 55 just a few days ago. Liars. It’s freezing in the morning and then at eleven o’clock you need to change all your clothes and put on more deodorant. By the time “Survivor” is on tonight I’ll be sitting on the couch bundled in a fleece blanket.

When I got dressed this morning I really had to do some thinking. I was the parent helper at my son’s preschool today. I was going to have to figure out a way to dress appropriately from 9am-12pm. I wore a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a hoodie. Twenty minutes after I got there I decided to lose the sweatshirt. The preschool teacher, who’d been wearing a cardigan, and I found ourselves tugging on our shirts and then she turned to me and said, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?”

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"Happy Anniversary!!!" or perhaps not...

About six years ago, my newlywed husband, John, and I drove over to my mother-in-law’s house on a Sunday. We’d been married about one month and truly believed our love was here to stay. Still feeling that honeymoon bliss, we were happy to go over for Sunday dinner. This dinner was in honor of my brother-in-law, Jimmy, and his wife Kathy. It was their tenth wedding anniversary.

“I can’t believe it was ten years ago, I can still remember sweating in that tux outside when we took pictures. It was so humid, and the limo’s air conditioning broke. It was awful,” John said. I couldn’t tell you a thing about that day myself, for I was but a twinkle in my husband’s eye.

Anyway, we hadn’t actually bought them a gift. Jimmy worked for the state and had a hectic schedule. We were planning on getting them tickets to see The Lion King on Broadway. Truth be told, we weren’t ready to fork over a few hundred bucks on tickets until we knew when they’d be able to go for sure. So in the cute little Hallmark card I wrote:

Dear Jimmy and Kathy,

Congratulations and Happy 10th Anniversary! I hope that we’re half as happy and as in love as you two are today when it’s our tenth! Consider this a gift certificate for two tickets to “The Lion King”. Just give us the date you can go and we’ll take care of the rest.

Love Always,
Deb & John

We pulled in the driveway and walked in the side door, which is the entrance to the kitchen. I had smile on my face and said “Hello!” but that smile and cherry disposition quickly faded. I looked at my mother and sister-in-law who were sitting at the kitchen table. They looked upset.

“Deb why don’t sit down, we need to talk,” said Theresa, my sister-in-law.

Jimmy entered the kitchen and took my husband aside into the den where I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

What the hell is going on? They’ve split us up, something happened, someone died! Oh God, someone must have died. My mind was racing.

I sat down cautiously, “What’s going on? You guys are really making me a little worried.”

Theresa looked at my mother-in-law who gave her the nod to go ahead and speak. She drew in a deep breath and said, “Jimmy and Kathy are going to a marriage counselor.”

I have to say that I was never more relieved- I really thought someone died. But why the hell are we finding this out now on their wedding anniversary?

“I don’t understand, they seem so happy. How long have they been going to one? What’s the problem? Where’s Kathy?” I whispered.

“Kathy’s not here. Jimmy thought it best if she stayed home.”

“What?! I don’t get it, what’s going on? I’m just in shock! I mean, yeah, they bicker, but…” I began to realize they did bicker, quite a lot actually. Kathy tended to get a little heated over small things. She seemed to always spend money on new clothes, jewelry, manicures, going on spur of the moment trips all the time. I just assumed they made lots of cash and they treated themselves to a vacation or two- every few months. She was pretty rude to John, too. She’d always pick on him for being cheap. And he was, still is. Even though I tried to believe that she was just busting his balls, sometimes she’d crossed the line. I used to think that maybe I just need not be so sensitive. She was also pretty opinionated. Like, in your face, opinionated. Not a characteristic of hers that I particularly enjoyed.

“We were pretty shocked, too,” Theresa continued. “Jimmy said they’d been going for a couple months. He’s never mentioned anything about having problems. He says he wanted to get divorced, but she really wants to give the counseling a try, so I don’t what’s going to happen.”

After the three of us sat in stunned silence at the table, John and Jimmy reappeared. Now the five of us were silent in the tiny kitchen. The noise of the blaring TV in the den was only bit of distraction from the tension. My father-in-law was still sitting in the recliner watching baseball.

I don’t remember who got up or spoke first, but I found myself helping set the table. We sat and ate supper, barely speaking a word. I felt like we shouldn’t be eating. I think I just pushed the ziti and meatballs around my plate.

My husband always looks forward to these family get-togethers, especially when there’s a birthday or anniversary. Not because he loves partaking in the celebration so much as he does stuffing his face with cake. My mother-in-law buys a cake for everything. A new job, a new house, she finds any or no reason at all to gather the family around a cake.

He’d noticed the cake in refrigerator earlier when he’d gotten a coke. Jimmy and my father-in-law went in the den after they finished eating and my mother-in-law gathered the dishes to clean up.

John leaned in towards Theresa and I, “So…what are we going to do with cake? I mean Mom got a cake, I guess we’re not going to eat it?”

“Johnny, no, I don’t think we’re going to eat it,” said Theresa.

“John! I think it’s a little inappropriate to ask, don’t you think everyone is upset enough? You better not say anything,” I shuddered at the thought that he could be so insensitive as to think we’d eat the cake.

“Johnny, you’re such an ass.”

We went into the den for awhile and my mother in law put on the kettle for tea and made coffee. She came in and asked if anyone was going to have any.

We all shuffled into the kitchen pathetically quiet. And on the table, there it was in all its glory: the cake. “Happy 10th Anniversary to Jimmy & Kathy!” it shouted sarcastically in pastel frosting.

“We’re going to eat the cake?!” John practically shouted.

My mother-in-law huffed and shook her head, “Well you better, it cost me $16.00!”

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Coffee Pot

I am the proud owner of a defective coffee pot. Oh, it makes the coffee just fine, but the pot itself is defective. My mother had to learn to accept this. It wasn’t easy. She kept insisting that I send away for a proper working replacement. I could, but I’m a little too lazy for that.

Whenever I make coffee for company and my guest start pouring coffee for themselves, they become incredibly stressed out. I tell them that they aren’t doing anything wrong, that coffee pot is just defective. It always spills coffee on the counter. After apologizing and cleaning up their mess we usually have the following conversation:

“This is dribbling coffee all over the place. This coffee pot is horrible!”

“I know,” I say.

“So why don’t you get a new one?”

“Because it was a wedding gift.”

“So what? Now you gotta live with this dribbling coffee pot for the rest of your life? Who would give you a defective coffee pot for a wedding gift?”

“I picked it out.”

“You mean you registered for this?”


“Well, did you know that it was going to dribble coffee all over the place?”


“Then why’d you pick it?”

“Makes a great conversation piece.”

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Columbo and a Few Idiots

Columbo and a Few Idiots

I used to watch Columbo with my mom, we really got a kick out of him. Ever watch it? Peter Faulke plays this stumbling detective walking around in a wrinkled trench coat that’s about three sizes too big.

Anyway, I don’t need to watch the entire show to know whodunit. It’s always the suspect that he befriends from the very start. He keeps coming around the murder victim’s wife and asking questions like, “Are you sure he didn’t have any enemies? I mean is there anyone you can think of that he might have had a beef with? And ma’am, just one more thing and then I’ll be out of your hair; do you know of anyone that may have happened to overhear a loud argument in a public place where they threatened your husband’s life?”

There’s always that one suspect, the “public-argument-threatener”. Doesn’t this guy ever learn? If you threaten someone’s life and people overhear it, you can bet the’ll turn up dead.

Imagine what’s going through that guy’s head. “I knew I shouldn’t have argued with Joe and threatened his life in Public Square, I should have known he’d get killed- by someone else, of course. It certainly wasn’t me.”

But that guy’s never the one who did it. They want you to think it’s that guy. But it’s not him.

Columbo already knows this. What he lacks in smart appearances, he makes up for in his persistence and determination of getting on the killer’s last nerve. He’ll just keep going back over to the widow’s house. He’ll pull that same piece of paper out of his coat pocket. He starts asking more her more questions, some are new questions but most of them are the same questions he’s asked her a dozen times before.

“Ma’am, are you sure he didn’t have any enemies? No one you can think of that might have wanted him dead?” At this point the truth starts to come out and not because she can’t lie anymore, she just plain loses it. “If I have to answer these questions one more time…” She ends up confessing to the whole thing while Colombo chews on his cigar. She goes to jail and he looks like a genius.

The best part about Columbo is that he’s still driving around that same old jalopy. Even on a reunion show filmed twenty years after they rapped up the series he was driving around in that thing. It’s true.

That car was on the verge of breaking down in every single episode. It was about two clunks and a sputter away from blowing up. But at its age, it might have just imploded. It was at it’s worst whenever things started getting interesting. Columbo would hop in all fired up because he was onto something when the engine wouldn’t start. He’d talk to the steering wheel, coaxing the car to start just this one last time. And miracles of miracles, it would.

The fact that he’s been driving around a car like that for thirty years makes me think he must be like my husband. We used to have this used Honda he’d bought ten years ago. It drove like a dream. Honda knows how to make a reliable car. But then little things started to go wrong towards the end. “I just wanna get a couple more years out of it and then I’ll trade it in,” my husband would say. What are they going to give you for a trade in on that car? Honestly. And it’s funny how he kept saying “a couple more years”. He started saying “a couple of years” four years before we finally led that car out to pasture.

How many did he think a couple was? A couple would imply two, right? But we got four more years out of that car, that’s two more than a couple; which would really be “a few”.

These generic types of numeral terms often confuse people. When I used to work in a coffee shop, people would come in asking for a couple of this and few of those. “Put in couple of Sweet n Lows, would ya?” I’d put two packets in. They’d sip their latte and make a face at me, “Nah, put in a couple more; that’s not sweet enough.” I’d usually point them over to the concession stand of sugars. I had other customers to deal with, if he didn’t mind. “Go over there and put in your idea of a couple sugars. In fact, why don’t you take a couple more with you in case the couple more you put in aren’t enough.”

A couple is two. When Noah was gathering animals for the ark, didn’t God tell him, “Get a pair of elks, two frogs, a couple giraffes, well you get the idea…” There wasn’t enough room for more than two of everything. Noah understood this, and that’s why God picked him in the first place. “You know, Noah, some people out there think that a ‘couple’ is three or four, but not you, boy. You get it. That’s why I’m letting rain. Maybe I can flood out some of these idiots that have it all wrong. Gotta cut the fat around here, you know how it is. Well, that’s all for now. I’ll give you further instructions in forty-one days.”

Now a “few” is much too general. I happen to think that a few is four. Maybe because they both start with “f”. When someone asked for a “few”, I could never be sure how much they really wanted. “I’ll take one cranberry-orange muffin, a blueberry scone….oh yeah, three chocolate croissants, aaaaannnnnnddddd…..hmmmm….throw in a few biscotti!” They had me up until “a few” got involved. I would then ask how many was “a few”. Inevitably they’d look at me and say, “Oh I don’t know, a couple.”

Worse than a “couple” or a “few” is “some”. What the hell is some? There’s no value in some. “Wanna come over and watch some Columbo?” “Well, I don’t know. Exactly how much Columbo are we going to watch? Because it sounds to me like I won’t get to see the whole thing. It doesn’t matter really, I don’t really need to watch the whole show to know whodunit.” Some. What is that? It’s nothing! Well, I guess it’s something.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Personal Realty Tour

Personal Realty Tour

I find myself driving around aimlessly this afternoon, which by the way is a highly enjoyable way to drive. Since my son has been taking part in a nap strike and I’ve decided to call his bluff. I drive while he is forced to sit in his car seat, riding along until he can no longer keep his eyes open. Nothing is more soothing than riding in the car, although I suppose that also depends on who’s driving.

I have taken to the road, quiet roads. Some would be considered main roads but there aren’t many cars traveling along them. I make some turns here and there. Sometimes down through the Metro Parks where the drive is practically meditative. You can look at the trees and hear the birds sing if your windows are rolled down and not driving so fast that all you get is wind rushing through your ear.

But my favorite roads are the ones “less traveled”. And by less traveled I mean “Private Drives”.

The sign says it all in the most condescending way; “This drive belongs to the people that dwell within and not the likes of you”. Some are little developments that include manmade ponds and lakes. The signs posted on the road include certain words like “hidden”, “trail”, and “lakes”. An example would be “Cedar Trail” or one of my personal favorites, “Hidden Lakes”. This would imply that there are an abundance of lakes, but they are hidden. Maybe they don’t even know that they’re really there, but they’re sure that they exist. But don’t attempt to be Lewis and Clark discovering them, the likes of you need not enter our private existence.

I’ve taken a ride through and I usually find at least one of the lakes and guess what, it’s in plain view, well maybe behind a thin veil of trees and bushes, but I certainly wouldn’t call that hidden. If I should ever move into that community, I want to be greeting by fellow upper-middle-class neighbors bearing casseroles and potted plants. Then after everyone has dropped off their housewarming gift and left, I suppose I’d snoop around my new attic full of old things the previous owner never bothered pack. I might stumble upon and wooden box, blowing off a thick layer of dust to find that inside would be a folded piece of delicate, yellowed parchment paper and inscribed would be a very faint map. It would lead me to a hidden lake full of mermaids and octopuses.

What if the lake was actually under something, like big boulder? The neighbors would be stunned, “Imagine that, the real hidden lake was underneath this big rock the whole time?” Maybe it was beneath a house, like an underground canal. Of course we’d find out it was only the septic tank, and although it certainly would be a feast for our eyes and nose it just wouldn’t be able to capture the same magic and wonder.

I pass by one driveway to a secluded neighborhood bearing a “No Outlet” sign. In other words “Don’t Bother Driving In Here”. If you should feel the need to there is only one way out and it’s the same way you came in. You will actually be driving in circles. There is no “where” to go, so just keep on driving, you insignificant piece of crap. It is the equivalent of the police officer at a crime scene motioning the crowd of nosey rubber-necks to move it on back. “There’s nothing to see here, people. Go on about your pathetic lives…”

Ordinarily this would have piqued my curiosity and I would have pulled in just to spite the pretentious sign. But I saw all there was to see from the street. The sign out in front of this little gathering of mini mansions said “Fairfield Oval”. Oval? Really? Are you sure it’s not hexagon perhaps? It was really about a half a dozen houses gathered around a circle of trees. Yes, a circle of trees. But perhaps a circle is a commoner’s shape; they needed a much sophisticated piece of geometry worthy enough to name their village.

And how come no one ever lives in the circle? Is it because all those who live around the circle don’t want to look at one another? It would be like prime real estate for those who love to be the center of attention. “Everyone in the neighborhood is looking at me!” they might say proudly before getting their swollen head stuck in a doorway.

Not one for loving the spotlight, I would keep my curtains drawn no matter how stifling hot or stale the air in the house got. I would be much too self conscious and paranoid knowing in my heart of hearts that “Everyone in the neighborhood is looking at me!” It would be for certain that the one late night I decided to open the windows sure that all my neighbors were asleep they’d catch me doing unmentionable things. Mostly, late night pig outs. “There she is Jan, look at her! Stuffing her face with Oreos, it’s sickening. Look at the way she separates the cookie halves licking the insides till there’s nothing left! She just dropped one on the floor….Oh my GOD! She picked it and ATE IT!”

I notice that my son is starting to slump over in his car seat, a sure sign that the drive has rocked him into a deep sleep. It’s time to head home. I live on a pretty quiet street with neighbors whose estates do not intimidate the passers by. Our modest home is neither large nor boastful, but something we are proud to live in none the less. As I unbuckle the seat belt straps and carry his warm little sleepy body inside the house I turn to see a car slowing down past our driveway, and I must say, it felt nice to be noticed.

It's a Dirty World We Live In

It’s a Dirty World We Live In

You never realize what disgusting world we live in until you have a kid. From the moment they’re born parents shield them from the dangers of dirt. How come we never noticed how dirty the floor was until a baby crawled on it? I’ll tell you why. From up here everything looks clean. But they’re down there, they’re right there in it. It’s sort of like watching an astronaut set foot on a new planet. You’re scared for their safety; there’s no telling what they could step in.

When you’re a parent you see everything with new eyes. And your new eyes can see the dirt that your old eyes would miss. Your radar vision scans the area and immediately locates every piece of dirt as a blip on your screen. “Oh this will never do. Quick! Sanitize this child and tape off the area immediately. It’s a biohazard!”

Of course as a parent we can now get away with calling anything dirty. You’ll have no bones about pointing every dirty thing for your child to avoid. Anything and everything you don’t want them to touch is now called dirty. You’re a guest at the White House when your kid drops a cookie on the floor. “Don’t eat that! It’s dirty!” You look over at the First Lady, “Oh, I certainly don’t mean to say that your floors are dirty. I’m sure you could serve dinner off of these floors, but would you really want to?”

Let me clear something up: There is no five second rule. That rule only applies to the slobs so lazy that they can’t be bothered to disregard filth. Don’t come crying to me when you get food poisoning. You’re whole life could summed up in a petri dish.

Look around where you live and you’ll see that dirt is everywhere. It’s all around us. It’s on the floor, it’s on the door, and when you wake up in the morning, somehow it is in your hair. “My hair had no dirt on it when I went to bed last night, but when I got up this morning, it was filthy.”

Dirt. There’s a whole bunch of it outside, too. Dirt is on the street and in your driveway. Want to really knock yourself out? Go outside and dig up a patch of grass and you’ll find nothing but dirt under there. Some people build piles of dirt on their lawn called “mulch” that they decorate with flowers like that makes it okay. It’s dirt! Don’t you people know that?

Our mothers knew where the evil lurked and they were terrified of it. They knew what it was, and they didn’t want it in the house. The biggest concern was always the carpet. You could be wearing a new pair shoes fresh out of the box, but shoes were never to be worn on the carpet. Shoes, no matter how clean, were always dirty.

Our feet are dirty. But when you stop and think about it, they should cleanest thing on our body. How is it that our feet are so dirty? They have socks on them. They have shoes on them. They have layers of protection from dirt exposure. What about our hands? They’re just hanging out naked. We should really be shaking people’s feet instead of their hands.
If dirt was flying in the air right towards your head and there wasn’t enough time to duck, what do we use to protect our face? Our hands. If dirt were about to land on our feet what do we do? We jump the hell out of the way, that’s what we do. We are so quick to protect the shoes which cover the socks covering our feet. This proves my point. I think I’d rather shake a guy’s foot than the filthy hand he might have sneezed in.

As a kid you’d go outside to play and tapping on the window from the safety of the clean indoors was your mother screaming, “Don’t touch that! It’s dirty!” You’d look at the fire hydrant and think, “I don’t see any dirt. She just never wants me to touch anything fun.” If my mother had been more specific and said that a dog used it as a urinal, perhaps I would have been less inclined to get my mitts on it.

I’ll never be comfortable with dirt and germs. They make me nervous like when you come across snarling dog without a leash and no owner in sight. You could be minding your own business taking a stroll in the park and there it is. You could be waiting in line at the drug store when the slob behind you coughs on the back of your neck. It’s a dangerous dirty world out there and you sometimes you never know when you’ll be attacked.

Some of this fear is stemmed from thousands of years of evolution. It’s in the genes. In order to survive we must steer away from the clear and present danger of filth. For some of us, namely me, the fear and resistance may have gone a bit far. For example; I would sooner walk across hot coals to sign to divorce papers in my own blood before fishing out the wedding ring I dropped in the toilet. Doesn’t matter if it’s clean. I think I’d even be willing to lose it if it fell in one of those display toilets lined up at the Home Depot.